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In Re Billy’s Sports Bar, Inc.

A-1358-06T1 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2008)

LIQUOR LICENSES; RENEWALS — There is no statutory authority or court precedent that requires a municipal alcoholic beverage board to remind holders of liquor licenses that they are supposed to renew licenses every year or to compel the state liquor board to renew or issue an expired, retired or new liquor license.

A liquor store was the transferee of a liquor license from a bar. The liquor store never received a renewal application and an attorney for the liquor store inquired of the municipality’s alcoholic beverage board. The liquor store’s attorney found out that, by reason of the board’s mistake, the transfer was never reported to the state alcoholic beverage board and that state records indicated that the license was still owned by the bar. The liquor store was later informed that the license had been retired and that the state board had no jurisdiction to grant a new license to the liquor store because it did not file for renewal in a timely manner and because it was unable to establish that it substantially complied with the renewal requirement.

On appeal from the board’s decision, the Court noted that liquor licenses are valid from July 1 of one year to June 30 of the following year. The Court also noted that there was a thirty day grace period after June 30 within which licenses could be renewed and an additional thirty days for applicants who could prove that the delay was due to circumstances beyond their control. After the sixty days, barring any constitutional implications, the director of the state board has no authority to renew a license or issue a new one. The Court rejected the liquor store’s argument that the liquor license was a property interest which, if forfeited, constituted a taking in violation of its constitutional rights.

The liquor store’s reasoning was that the failure of the municipality to transfer the license was the cause of the license’s expiration. The Court rejected this argument, pointing out that the statute itself served as notice because it stated the dates of a license’s duration, the grace period, and that the board director had no control over renewal once sixty days passed from the expiration date of the license. It also noted that there was no statutory authority or court precedent that required a municipal alcoholic beverage board to remind holders of liquor licenses that they were supposed to renew licenses every year or to compel the state board to renew or issue an expired, retired or new liquor license. The Court also found that the liquor store did not demonstrate that it substantially complied with the renewal requirements. As a result, the decision by the director of state alcoholic beverage board not to renew the retired license, or to issue a new license to the liquor store, was affirmed.


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